Modern Seminole religious beliefs are a combination of indigenous religion and Christianity. Some Seminole religious beliefs include the Green Corn Ceremony and the Stomp Dance. In the Green Corn Ceremony, the Seminoles sacrifice the first green corn to ensure a healthy harvest. The Stomp Dance is a group call-and-response song and dance ritual composed of native songs.Continue Reading
Attempts to Christianize Seminoles began in the 1870s, by Baptist Missionaries. The Episcopal Church followed in the 1890s by erecting a mission at Big Cypress. It wasn’t until 1907 that already-Christianized Native American missionaries approached Florida Seminoles living near Lake Okeechobee. These Creek Indians were Baptist missionaries from Oklahoma, and spoke the same languages as the Seminoles.
1936 saw the dedication of the First Seminole Indian Baptist Church, and by 1946 several Seminole men had enrolled at the Florida Baptist Institute. Over time, converted Christian Seminoles established their own churches, and incorporated their native beliefs into Christianity. Seminole Christian churches sometimes sing traditional Christian hymns in the Creek or Muscogee languages.
Though Christianity is a syncretic religion that can absorb other religious beliefs, there were some tensions between the Christian Seminoles and traditional Seminoles. In the 1950s, as more Christian Seminole pastors preached on reservations, there was a decrease in attendance at the Green Corn Ceremony. Some viewed Christianity as a threat to Seminole traditions. By the 1980s, many tribal members made a concerted effort to observe the Green Corn Dance Ceremony, to help against losing their language and traditions. Now, many Seminole families participate in both Christian and traditional religious practices.Learn more about US History